Tony Gurr

Archive for the ‘ELT and ELL’ Category

Is the Global Scale of English (GSE) Really the “Love-Child” of Lucifer and Empusa?

In Assessment, Curriculum, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning on 23/10/2017 at 6:41 pm

Love Child

Unless you have been living under a rock (in the Nevada desert…close to Area 51) for the last couple of years, you will have noticed a ‘new kid’ playing in the ELT Learning Outcomes (LO) sandbox…


The Global Scale of English (GSE) came into this world, kicking and screaming…with ten fingers and ten toes, in 2014-15. The Pearson GSE Team described the ‘delivery’ as long and painful – but well worth the time, effort and money they had invested (and ask the CEFR Team – that’s just the tip of the iceberg) to co-create the world’s first ‘truly global English language standard’.

The CEFR, which had done much to put learning-driven curricular on the map for us, was essentially an EU initiative – and it was just a matter of time before someone picked up the ball and helped spread the word to our friends across the pond and down-under!

The BLUE Books (both of them) 2

Pearson’s stated ambition was to allow learners to measure their progress accurately and easily (like the CEFR – whose stated goal was to help learners take real ownership of their own learning…hence the whole CAN-DO thingy – this was about what learners CAN DO not what teachers WILL TEACH).

CEFR and GSE Aims


The GSE Team took this a step further and was also seeking a way to help learners answer 3 simple questions:

  • How good is my English?

  • Am I progressing?

  • What do I need to do next?

The questions are simple! The answers…not so much!


Now, I’m not going to get into the ins and outs of the GSE (you can explore this here and the other hotlinks – the red links – below).

GSE LO Booklets 2

Suffice to say…not too shabby – a very useful project (for students)!


Pearson even went so far as to create an on-line GSE Teachers Toolkit to help schools ‘audit’ their curriculum outcomes and syllabi and create their own sets of learning outcomes (LOs)…from a huge array of learning outcomes for YLs, EAP / EGAP students, ESP learners and folk interested in General English (whatever that might be)!

Oh, and did I mention that all this was OPEN-SOURCE and…

Free (hanging labels-red) 2



I have to admit I fell in love with this chubby, little baby as soon as I saw her…and I watched her grow as she began to play with Grammar and Lexical learning outcomes, too.

She’s not quite there with those ones…but she is making rapid progress and Pearson’s better use of research, corpora and technology suggests she’ll get there soon…inşallah!


Now, you might ask ‘why’…why I grabbed her rosy, little cheeks and said I just wanna eat you all up’!

Well, in my work I spend a lot of time working with schools on Curriculum Renewal initiatives. Back in the bad, old days…I would spend months helping teachers learn how to write Learning Outcomes (LOs).

The teachers I was working with would also spend hours sending me ‘hate-mail’…saying things like:

  • I am not qualified to do this…

  • This is killing me…I just can’t cope…

  • All this is wasting my time…I just want to be in the classroom…

I felt many of these ‘pains’, I did!


However, I recognised that many teachers:

  • Had fallen into the ‘trap’ of textbook-driven teaching…

  • Were running lessons that were little more than activity-based or content-driven classroom ‘TO-DO’ checklists…

  • Lacked the curriculum and assessment ‘literacy’ to design the type of lessons that linked clear outcomes to effective learning opportunities…

Yani, many teachers were not doing the type of things they wanted to do (deep down…in their heart of hearts)…they were not using the creativity they had…and were (frequently) getting more and more frustrated (and burned out) by this.



Using the GSE outcomes allowed me to jump-start the Curriculum Renewal process and help teams focus on the high priority areas for their syllabi, help them focus on a Curriculum Planning model that made more sense (than textbook page-turning…like a burger-flipper at McDonalds) and focus on planning better lessons.

In a nutshell, using the GSE helped teachers develop their curriculum and assessment literacy levels – and helped them ‘TAKE a curriculum PERSPECTIVE’ (rather than simply just ‘HAVING a PERSPECTIVE on curriculum’).

That is:

  • Take a clearer position on the power of Learning Outcomes (LOs)


  • ‘Walk-their-talk’ more when planning, designing and reflecting on the lessons they create


Now, maybe I was being a bit naïve…I looked at the GSE as a tool and I used it to help people I work with!

After playing lots of ‘familiarisation games’ with GSE descriptors (often with a bit of mild competition), we’d brainstorm the most effective ways to assess these descriptors and gather evidence that our students CAN, in fact, DO this stuff fluently and automatically. We wrapped up these sessions by planning ‘mini-lessons’ describing how we could help our students get there.

Backwards Lesson Planning 2

It was this last phase, the mini-lesson planning – done collaboratively, that began to put smiles back on teachers faces. As they shared ideas, critiqued the order and sequence of activities and input and double-checked they were ‘hitting’ the correct LOs and eliciting the best evidence they could…they realised they could use all that creativity they have inside!

This is ‘real’ PDTeacher LearningReflective PracticeI remember thunking to meself!


Hey, and did I say…it is OPEN-SOURCE and…

Free (hanging labels)


However, and as usual, there is always a BIG…



Pretty soon, I began to realise all was not well in the state of Denmark and the sandbox our GSE baby was playing in!


I started to see some less than positive reviews of the GSE coming out on social media and blogs – some of them before most people had even had the chance to work out what the GSE was…let alone review the draft LOs that were coming out!

Some of these were linked to the advance of ‘learnification’ in education. To be honest, I still really do not get this (how the bloody hell can more of a focus on learners and learning possibly be ‘a bad thing’…maybe, I’m just really thick)!

LEARNing Quote 01 (Steve)


The name-calling also began early on with GSE being referred to as ‘the Son of CEFR Frankenstein Reanimated’ (my use of Empusa is much smarter!)…and built on the views of some that the CEFR has been indiscriminately exported for use in standards-based education and assessment in non-European contexts (Fulcher, 2010) and has reduced diversity and experimentation in pedagogy and research (Davies, 2008). Geoff Jordon, whose views I usually have a lot of time for, expanded on this and suggested that Pearson’s ‘Grand Vision’ is one of world domination, sorry Geoff, ’standardised everything’.

Illuminati and GSE

Again, a lot of this is pure speculation (by CEFR and GSE ‘outsiders’) fuelled by what can only be described by a conspiracy theory orientation.

Besides, I have always found that it is schools and school administrators that are more obsessed with ‘standardisation’ – falsely assuming that if teachers cover the same pages (at the same time), students will ‘learn’ the same amount! Teachers, for their part, are often terrified of being seen not to follow their ‘pacing guides’ or ‘weekly plans’ (to the letter, page or activity) and come to believe that ‘standardisation’ is the best way to ‘cover-their-own-arse’ – just in case something is on the test!

Nothing could be further from the truth…students do not learn more because we standardise ‘inputs’ and any publisher worth their salt knows they can sell more (or at least curry favour with teachers) by promoting creative use of textbooks and materials and ideas to personalise activities and textbook tasks.


Gunpoint (cat)

The bottom line is that no one can be ‘forced’ to adopt the tools or materials offered by Pearson – free will (and after-sales service) play a much bigger role in the creation of real-world book lists and school adoptions than these commentators know. The truth of the matter is that schools themselves do more of the arm-twisting…and end up harming the morale and motivation of both their teachers and students in the process!

The other criticism that has been raised is that of the ‘granular’ nature of the GSE. This is true but it is this very fact that makes the GSE a more ‘precise scale of proficiency’. A key ‘weakness’ of the CEFR ‘levels’ was that they were not ‘granular’ enough (this is why feedback from teachers…yes, I said teachers…not publishers, led to the addition of the A2+, B1+, B2+ levels).

If students, as the CEFR originally envisioned, are to take more control of their own learning and the very language they are engaging with, they need ‘granular’they need accessiblethey need transparent!

This is what the GSE has done…


Thinkers wanted (blog ver 02 TG)

Unlike many of ELT’s ‘blue bloods’, I read…a great deal! I totally get the criticisms from SLA experts that suggest that:

  • ‘CAN-DO‘ outcomes may not evolve in the way the CEFR and GSE describe them

  • Many current LOs in the CEFR and GSE are not as ‘meaningful’ as they could be

  • We do not have the corpora to link grammar and lexis to the various levels and scales we are using

  • ELT (and educational sciences in general) needs to prioritise evidence-based practice (not Eminence-Based EDUmyths from EDUquacks)

However, teaching is as much an art as it should be a science. Sadly, we are not quite there with the science…


Now, some of you might say, “Tony, you naïve little boy! Wake up, smell the coffee and see that ELT has become an industry dominated by Illuminati-type publishers”!

Blog Post (Curric Pt 02) Image 05 230717

I haven’t got time to worry about imaginary threats of world domination. Like everything on the planet (except God…and my darling wife), nothing is perfect.


Yes, Pearson is a huge company…that wants to make money (nothing wrong with that – I am the same…need to put bread on the table for my family and in my dog’s bowl) – but there are so many challenges we face as teacher educators:

Most of us work in the real world where we face very real problems:

  • Schools and universities operating without a ‘written curriculum’ – and extremely low levels of curriculum and assessment literacy (even among school leaders)

  • Teachers with little real, practical classroom training (even after graduating from an Education Faculty) blindly using textbooks

  • Testing Teams inflicting unfair and unreliable tests on students

  • Students unprepared to take responsibility for their own learning – because schools and teachers do not ‘walk’ their student-centred ‘talk’

I could go on…YOU could add to this, I’m sure!


GSE Tools (more the better)

We need all the help (and tools) we can get our hands on! And, I repeat again, no one is being forced to adopt the GSE (just like no one was forced to adopt the CEFR, the Communicative Approach or Task-Based Learning)!

They are simply ‘tools’tools to be exploited as we see fit or dismissed.


By the way, did I mention that not all of us are as well-paid as our colleagues in Finland and when we are given an open-source ‘gift’…we should:

Blog Post (Curric) Image 02 220717

…and say ‘Thank You’!


Telling the truth (TG ver) 080517

I do not work for Pearson. I have not been paid to produce this post (I earn nothing from any of my bouts of bloggery).

However, I do work with Pearson (as a training and consulting partner) and Pearson do sponsor some of my work with their key clients and, occasionally, I do support those clients with a keynote or seminar at a conference.

In all these duties, I am never required to engage in any form of product placement – I work in the best interests of the schools, teams and teachers that choose to work with Pearson.



So…What Exactly Should Curriculum Planning Look Like – for 2017/18? (Part 02)

In Curriculum, ELT and ELL, Our Schools, Our Universities, The Paradigm Debate on 22/10/2017 at 12:35 am

Urbanski Quote

Have you ever done a blog post that totally leads people down the garden path – then promises to make up for it by saying that Part 2 will be more focused, useful and better-written?

Have you ever forgotten to write that Part 2?



So, as I was saying – ELT has been using this ridiculous, ‘best practice’ model for curriculum-developing and syllabus-making for over 40 years (teachers have also incorporated it into their lesson-planning)!

CPD Blog Post 170717 slide 09 TG


It just don’t work…and we have (in our heart of hearts) known this for years!

Why not?


Well, it ain’t that hard to work out:

Screaming Teacher


OK, OK – I get that when we look at our ‘content’, we get pretty scared:

Curric Content


We can panic about much of this ‘content’ we have to ‘cover’ in the limited time we have available with our learners – especially, if we are also working in an EGAP or EAP context:


Academic Literacy

Academic Literacy is a total bi’ach to plan for!


Covey Quote

But, the solution is NOT to ignore the learner…it is to make sure we put the learner at the heart of our decision-making.

Wiggins and McTighe Quote 2


We have to recognise that more of the same is not the solution…

Do Different ZAMANI

Indeed, we just have to listen to some of the ELT Jedi Masters (although they may be few in number)…

ELT Jedi Masters


Recognising the power of questions…

Mackenzie Quote


Wiggins and McTighe gave use a new planning model with 3 phases:




…and gave use us 3 disarmingly-simple questions to help us get it right!


The first of these drew attention to the fact that learner outcomes (not teacher inputs) are here to stay – and, if we are to have a hope in hell of expanding and improving student learning and success, we have to begin with the end in mind or recognise that curriculum-developing needs to begin where it ends – with the learning of individual students.

Backwards Model (1st questions) 2

That’s the essence of the job, guys – always has been!


The second phase has frequently raised a few eyebrows – because we, so often, just tag on assessment at the end of the learning process. We forget that, for students, assessment IS the curriculum!

Backwards Model (2 questions) 2

Come on! How many times have you heard a student say:

“Hocam, that was a great lesson! I loved the way you combined the 21st century skills of critical thinking and collaboration with a truly communicative, task-based activity based on a meaningful information gap…and the way you supported us with just-in-time instruction and helped with all that emergent vocabulary and lexis – you are a great teacher…I love you”!

How many times have you heard this one?

“Hocam – will this be on the test…or what”?

You get the point…


The fact is that if a teacher really knows and understands the nature of the assessment processes and tools that students need to engage with (and these are more than simplistic, high-stakes, multiple-choice tests) they can create lessons that promote more of a learning-driven culture…where learners welcome the type of formative feedback that helps them grow and succeed.


Backwards Model (all 3 questions) 2

The final phase is where teachers can get creative – developing a lesson (or series of lessons) that both meets student needs and is engaging and, dare I say it, useful! Rather than starting with a textbook (and following up with content-driven and activity-driven lessons), we design learning opportunities and tasks that can make a difference…and be fun!

Surely, I do not have to sell this any harder…it just makes so much sense!


OK, I may have simplified things a wee bit – but just jump back to Part 01 and tell me this is not an improvement…that this approach can’t help us deal with the challenge identified by Rogers…over 35 years ago!

Rogers Quote 1982

The 2017-18 EDU, ELT/ELL and EDTECH Conference Calendar for Canım Türkiyem…Ver 1.0

In Conferences, ELT and ELL, News & Updates (from the CBO), Teacher Learning on 20/10/2017 at 7:59 pm

Sevgili Hocalarim,

I really wanted to get this one out by the first of the month (last month!) – but kept hoping that a few others would be confirmed.

Neyse, I’ll add them when I do Ver 2.0 or Ver 3.0 – don’t forget to let me know, if you hear before I do…

Tony (logo new) 260316 ACG

OK – so first we have our events in canım Turkiyem:



EVENT: 2nd Intl. Conference on Best Practices and Innovations in Education (INOVED 2017)

EVENT: The 18th International INGED ELT Conference

  • DATE: 20-22 October 2017
  • LOCATION: İstanbul Aydın University, Florya Campus – İSTANBUL
  • THEME: Winds of Change
  • INFO:

EVENT: ICONFLE’17 – 1st International Conference on Foreign Language Education

  • DATE: 20-21 October 2017
  • LOCATION: Eastern Mediterranean University, FLEPS – FAMAGUSTA / NORTHERN CYPRUS
  • THEME: Current Practices in Language Teaching
  • INFO:

CPD Blog Post 170717 slide 05 TG



EVENT: 5th Global Conference on Linguistics and Foreign Language Teaching (LINELT-2017)

EVENT: The 6th Ata Fun Fair

EVENT: Eğitimde Gelecek Konferansı (EGK17)

EVENT: 3rd International Conference on New Trends in English Language

  • DATE: 13 November 2017
  • LOCATION: Hotel Hilton Bosphorus – İSTANBUL
  • THEME: Teaching and Testing
  • INFO:

EVENT: 4th International Conference on New Trends in Education

  • DATE: 17-18 November 2017
  • LOCATION: Bahcesehir University Besiktas Campus – İSTANBUL
  • THEME: CLIL: Crafting Bilingual Minds
  • INFO:

 Most people can only SEE



EVENT: 5th International Conference on Education and Social Sciences (INTCESS 2018)

CPD Blog Post 170717 slide 02 TG


MARCH 2018

EVENT: 5. Eğitim Teknolojileri Zirvesi (ETZ18)



APRIL 2018

EVENT: 4th Cukurova International ELT Conference (CUELT 2018) 

  • DATE: 05-06 April 2018
  • LOCATION: Çukurova University, Faculty of Education – ADANA
  • THEME: Generic ELT Issues
  • INFO: (Contact: Ali Ceyhun Müftüoğlu)

EVENT: 2nd International Conference on Education and Learning 

Lunacy 02 (Eistein Quote)


MAY 2018

EVENT: The 13th METU International ELT Convention

  • DATE: 03-04 May 2018
  • LOCATION: METU Convention Centre – ANKARA
  • INFO: More details coming soon!

EVENT: Sabancı School of Languages Conference

EVENT: 4th International Conference: Plagiarism across Europe and Beyond

  • DATE: 9-11 May 2018
  • LOCATION: Palm Wings Hotels & Resorts – EPHESUS / İZMİR
  • THEME: Fostering Academic Integrity Through Consistent and Transparent Approaches
  • INFO:


Then, we add some ‘sauce’ – for those of you with a half-decent ‘conference fund’ and a School operational plan that covers ‘foreign jollies’:

06 Creativity FQs (balance TG ver)



EVENT: ELT Ireland – 4th Annual Conference


MARCH 2018

EVENT: 24th TESOL Arabia International Conference and Exhibition

EVENT: The 53rd RELC International Conference

  • DATE: 12-14 March 2018
  • THEME: 50 Years of ELT and Assessment – Reflections, Insights and Possibilities 
  • INFO: (Contact: Dr Alvin Pang)

EVENT: TESOL 2018 International Convention & English Language Expo


APRIL 2018

EVENT: The 52nd IATEFL Conference


MAY 2018

EVENT: 5th International Language in Focus Conference

EVENT: GlobELT 2018: An International Conference on Teaching and Learning English as an Additional Language


JUNE 2018

EVENT: The European Conference on Language Learning 2018 

  • DATE: 29June – 01 July 2018
  • THEME: Surviving and Thriving: Education in Times of Change
  • INFO: (Contact: Kiyoshi Mana)

Thats a wrap

Till Ver 2.0…

So…What Exactly Should Curriculum Planning Look Like – for 2017/18? (Part 01)

In Curriculum, ELT and ELL, Our Schools, Our Universities, The Paradigm Debate on 22/07/2017 at 7:37 am

Blog Post (Curric) Image 01 220717

I know, I know…most of us are still on holiday…but I am sure there are a few of us out there that are (already) experiencing anxiety about some of the tasks we have to complete when we get back to the factory floor. Especially, if a new textbook was selected just before the semester ended…

Do NOT worry…I am here to help you get over that anxiety and give you the PERFECT curriculum planning toolshiriously!

Blog Post (Curric) Image 02 220717

…and it won’t cost you any more than the price you paid for this blog post!


Blog Post (Curric) Image 03 220717

As with any planning system, we need to decide on the key concepts that will guide us – and I have found, as we are in ELT, that 3 work wonderfully:

PLANof course!

IMPLEMENTbecause we have to take stuff into the classroom!

TESTwell, just because…we love doing this! OK…we want to check what has been learned!


The first of these steps is sooooooo easy…and involves 3 more mini-steps – take a gander:

Blog Post (Curric) Image 04 220717And, here’s you getting all worked up during your holiday! Most of you have already done mini-step 01 (hey, some of you might even be using Headway…even though the authors died 10 years back)! The key, however, is mini-step 03 – once you have the pacing guideline (the weekly ‘checklist’ of stuff to teach), you are more than halfway home. Indeed, if you work in a Curriculum Unit you can start planning your holiday for July 2018!


Now, the teacher steps up to the plate – ready to breathe life into the wonderful documents you have created.

What do they need to do?

Again…easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy:

Blog Post (Curric) Image 05 2207173 more mini-steps even a burger-flipper at McDonalds can execute! Again, the trick here is to make sure you stay on track…covering every activity (except those pesky ‘pronunciation boxes’ and maybe that last ‘speaking task’after all, who needs them…and besides…you’ve run out of time)!



Blog Post (Curric) Image 07 220717

Ahhh, now we come to the home stretch…because we all know that ‘assessment’ is really the ‘curriculum’ for every single student. I mean…come on…have you ever heard a student say, ‘Hocam, that was a wonderful lesson – I loved the way you blended those two Learning Outcomes with the notion of critical thinking and creativity through that truly authentic and communicative information gap task’!

Voilà – this is how:

Blog Post (Curric) Image 06 220717

3 final mini-steps even the most mathematically-challenged ELT teacher could follow (with a calculator and a pre-prepared spreadsheet)! OK, OK…that last one can be tough on the old heart-strings… ‘but I did warn you to study more and not play with that bloody phone of yours so much’!

AND, that…ladies and gentlemen…is how you do it!


Tried and tested all over the globe – a model that has found its way into…

Blog Post (Curric) Image 08 220717

…and I gave it you HERE…for:

Blog Post (Curric) Image 09 220717

Life doesn’t get better than that…for a teacher (and that means most of us) on a salary less than 50% of what she is worth!


CPD Blog Post 170717 slide 09 TG

Well, as a great Jedi…sorry…Reiki Master told me,

‘You get what you pay for’!

So…What Exactly Should PD Look Like?

In Conferences, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training on 17/07/2017 at 1:55 pm

CPD Blog Post 170717 slide 05 TG

There I am…under my favourite olive tree, looking out at the point where the Aegean almost meets the Mediterranean…on the Turkish Riviera.

Sounds like heaven, yes?

So what the hell am I doing on my MacBook Air?

I’ll tell you – looking at the marketing bumf for the training courses that support a book entitled ‘A Handbook for Personalized Competency-Based Education (PCBE)’ from Robert Marzano and his gang at Marzano Research. Yes, as the sun goes down, the soft Aegean twilight floods the mountains and bay around Akbuk (near Didim)…here’s me reading about the type of Professional Development (PD) needed to ‘inspire’ teachers to breathe life into PCBE.

BTW – Did you know that the word inspire is derived from the Latin ‘inspirare’ which literally means to breathe life into another? Stephen Covey learned me that a few years back…

I am such a sad, sad man!

Neyse, and I know I have been critical of such terms as ‘competency’, ‘personalised instruction’ (esp. when linked to ‘standard operating procedures’…sorry, that combination just makes me pee a little in my underpants every time I see it!) and ‘content delivery’ (in earlier blog posts), but what I found in this set of marketing materials was a model for ‘getting PD right’.

Douglas Finn III, one of the authors of the book and designer of these training courses, tells us that ‘…this customizable on-site training will prepare your team to begin your school’s transition and offers practical strategies for addressing seven key design questions’ – which are:

  • What content will be addressed within the system?
  • How will the learning environment support student agency? 
  • How will instruction support student learning?
  • How will student proficiency be measured?
  • How will scheduling accommodate student learning?
  • How will reporting facilitate student learning?
  • How do we transition to a personalised, competency-based system?

OK – these questions have been imagineered to ‘change’ teachers (never a good move) but a sensible set of questions to structure a training module or PD event to be sure – especially if you want your PD to have an impact on student success. I like many of them…I do!

However (you knew it was coming…you know me so well), I can’t help feeling that this set of questions (and the type of PD it would lead to) is light-years ahead of the actual, real-world needs of most schools and teachers…it certainly isn’t the type of PD that we need in my adopted homeland – canım Türkiyem!

CPD Blog Post 170717 slide 11 TG

What’s the alternative, Tony Paşa? I hear you cry…

Well, it certainly ain’t the kind of PD and conference sessions I mentioned in my last post – what I should have dubbed, in hindsight, the ABCD’s of PD and Conference practices:

  • Amuse (or ‘titillate’ with BS stories…half of which are made up)
  • Bribe (with free books or even tablets…extorted from publishers)
  • Comfort (with guitar recitals)
  • Distract (with magic tricks and the like…)

I used to blame publishers for a lot of this but have come to see that it is schools, colleges and universities (at least in Turkey) that have caused this awful situation (as well as presenters, with far too little classroom experience trying to fake-it-till-they-make – it in a business they really have no right to be in) – by failing to make teacher learning an integral part of how they conduct busyness and by refusing to create PD budgets that can be used to develop fit-for-purpose learning opportunities and events for teachers.

This is even in the wealthier private sector – where conferences and PD events are seen as little more than PR or marketing opportunities ! These are the same schools, BTW, that tell teachers and Heads that they are ‘too fat’ or ‘not attractive enough’ for the schools ‘image’ (yes, they exist…and know who they are)!

So this is my heartfelt listicle for getting PD ‘right’ in a context like canım Türkiyem…Let’s start with a pretty obvious one:

CPD Blog Post 170717 slide 07 TG

A ‘C’ definitely needs to be added to the ‘PD’ component (and not just because it is trendy or sexy to do so). Teaching has changed so much since the 1960s, the mid-80s and even over the 17 years we have been in the 21st century! PD must enable teachers to move to the next level of expertise and enhance their ability to make changes that will result in increased student success and learning – this will only occur if teachers are provided with expanded learning opportunities, loads of peer support, and extended time to practice, reflect, critique, and practice what they have been learned.

Teacher learning is an ongoing process of reflection, risk-taking, feedback, reading, talking and adaptation – it needs to be continuous and ongoing, continuously supported and funded on a continuous basis.

Despite this shift in (global) conventional wisdom in PD practices, the vast majority of professional development in canım Türkiyem still consists of teachers attending one or two workshops on traditional themes or on topics containing the latest, sexy buzzwords in education. Participants listen passively to so-called ‘experts’ and are waved off with an encouraging pat on the back to apply the strategies in their own classrooms – no one ever does! We offer no support to link these new professional development events to past training and follow-up activities are rarely applied when teachers return to their classrooms.

And…we wonder why teachers start to hate PD!


CPD (look…sadded the ‘C’ already) should never aim to change teachers and their beliefs. As Peter Block noted, ‘We cannot change others, we can just learn about ourselves’.  However, CPD opportunities and events can be conceptualised as ‘learning conversations’ driven by questions – such conversations are not just ‘talk’ (from a ‘sage on the stage’ as is usually the case)…they need to be viewed as ‘action’.

Just as is the case with students:

CPD Blog Post 170717 slide 01 TG

Afterall, The best way to solve a problem is to first come up with a better question…

CPD activities organised around questions (not answers spoon-fed via an over-crowded powerpoint slide) help teachers reflect on how they present content to students themselves and demonstrate the value of thinking (and sharing) productively rather than simply ‘reactively’. This type of approach also allows presenters to really engage with participants in an authentic and meaningful manner – making sessions more interactive, spontaneous and (dare I say it) ‘fun’!

CPD Blog Post 170717 slide 08 TG

CPD opportunities should be also built on a progressive (and research-based) model of what good teaching looks like – to counter the effects of the fact that many teachers still teach the way they were taught. Teachers need to see this ‘model’ and be given the chance to weigh and measure themselves against it.

I’m not advocating the introduction of a formal set of standards at the start of every professional development activity – but teachers need to know where they should be going (esp. in an institutional context) and clarity in this area can be a friend to both teachers and school leaders.

CPD Blog Post 170717 slide 04 TG


CPD Programmes must help teachers understand that ‘poor teaching’ is essentially down to the over-emphasis on ‘teaching’ itself (especially when ‘content’ is spoon-fed via PPP and translation-driven approaches models and ‘practice’ is little more than textbook grammar boxes or handouts packed with fill-the-blank exercises) and the lack of attention to the ‘processes of learning’ by teachers themselves. This is hard for many teachers to ‘hear’  – but it’s important that CPD opportunities emphasise that our job is about expanding and improving student learning…not just about increasing the number of teaching tools and activities we have in our armoury.

Of course, CPD sessions that provide teachers with (easily-adaptable) tasks activities that help teachers get out of these vicious cycles really help reinforce these messages – if we ask teachers to reflect on why these activities / tasks impact learning so much more than simplistic worksheets.

It also goes without saying that schools dropping those infamous ‘pacing guides’ they create every week would be a great start – least that might give us a chance at cutting down the amount of coverage-based (or CYA) teaching and timetable slots given over to teaching the same tired ‘grammar McNuggets’ again and again.


CPD Blog Post 170717 slide 06 TG


CPD and professional development opportunities need to be grounded on an approach that recognises that all teachers (regardless of experience) need to further develop a ‘reflective disposition’. I have never met a teacher educator that has disagreed with this idea – or not criticised the reflective skills of their teachers-to-be.

Maybe it is a bit more about ‘cultural baggage’ here in Turkey (reflection is not a big part of our DNA…and we are doing a lot to ensure that what we do have is expunged) but I have also met many native speakers from the UK or USA that lack this disposition. You see…it’s also about character as much as it is about reflective skills – being open-minded (and open to learning), entering into CPD activities with whole-heartedness and accepting the imperfect and paradoxical world that is teaching…with humility and sensitivity to the needs of others (trainers and facilitators included).

REFLECTION 02 (Wheatley quote)


Then, we have two thorny issues:

  • What topics or themes should we focus on in CPD opportunities?
  • Who should ‘lead’ them?

CPD Blog Post 170717 slide 12 TG

Let me tackle the second of these first. While many teachers do enjoy listening to ‘experts’ (if they know how to engage participants and keep them from falling asleep), I’ve always found that teachers really enjoy CPD sessions grounded on personal experience, facilitated by people they trust (and who demonstrate both passion and integrity…bit like regular students in class!) and are infused with challenge and an abundance mentality.

It is this last characteristic that inspires others to become ‘students of their own teaching’ (my lead-in quote at the very top of the post), reflect on their strengths and ‘soft spots’ and share these insights by finding their own voices. In this light, leading CPD sessions is about leadership (and not just ‘formal positions of power’) and collaboration…and draws on Stephen Covey’s ‘8th Habit’ – CPD that helps educators and teachers move from ‘effectiveness’ to ‘greatness’. Anyone in a school (including students) can do this…

What about that first issue – topics and themes? Well, in the last few years we have seen a lot more research into this area:

CPD Blog Post 170717 slide 03 TG

Teachers clearly want these issues addressed…they want more of a ‘grass-roots’ or ‘bottom-up’ approach to be taken. Come on…we are talking about Teacher Learning…after all and it ain’t rocket science, guys!

Teachers want CPD that is relevant to their students and classrooms, treats them as professionals (not burger flippers) and, as noted above, is led by someone who understands their experience and issues.


…what about CPD that teachers ‘need’and is hidden from sight by that lack of reflective disposition we noted earlier? 


In an institutional context, there has to be a role for CPD that deals with the wider challenges the school has identified…and the strategic priorities highlighted for both school and teacher improvement. This means there will be need for PD that teachers have not ‘requested’ – and this is where we need the wholeheartedness and humility I noted earlier…the most.

The problem here, of course, is that so many schools in Turkey are pretty awful at planning and despite the growing interest in accreditation, still fail to see that ‘quality enhancement’ is very different to ‘wall decoration’. Many schools do not have improvement plans (fewer have annual operational plans…god-forbid you mention…a 5-year Strategic Plan)!

It’s difficult to plan CPD, if you do not have a culture of planning and quality enhancement – but just muddling through and making last minute calls to trainers or publishers to help you keep bums on seats ain’t gonna win you any friends… 


CPD Blog Post 170717 slide 09 TG


While the CPD models being developed in the States by Marzano and his pals appear, on the surface, to represent ‘Next Practice’ in connecting student and teacher learning, on closer inspection we have to admit that they were not developed for countries with educational cultures like Turkey in mind.

While Marzano is totally correct in believing the effectiveness of professional development should not be measured by how teachers feel about it, but by the impact that it has on their practice and – more importantly – the achievement of their students, we have to recognise that we first need to have more impact on teachers…if we want to have more of an impact on student learning…in the long run.

CPD Blog Post 170717 slide 10 TG

For now, this needs to be teachers…and the type of CPD opportunities we co-create with them.

I’ve tried to outline a few of the priorities I have seen with my own eyes in this post (which is now much longer than I ever planned it to be).

Canım Türkiyem (TG Ver 03)

Would YOU add any others?


Is ELT ‘Broken’? – Part 01: Is it the training or the trainers?

In Conferences, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training, Uncategorized on 08/05/2017 at 1:21 pm

Telling the truth (TG ver) 080517

I started this post as a bit of a ‘rant’ on FaceBook prompted by a session I did at a conference in Kool, Kalm Kocaelli.

Hulk 01 (TG ver) 080517


I asked a simple question:

Is ELT Broken (TG ver) 080517

…and suggested a wide range of reasons why the so-called ‘ELT profession’ is not functioning at optimal efficacy:

The reasons (TG ver) 080517


A lot of the participants were a bit gob-smacked at first…but, funnily enough, very few of them disagreed with me!

The Dogs (updated ver) 080517


One of the areas I noted was the quality of ‘training’. I didn’t get into the whole Undergraduate Teacher Education or CELTA debate (that would be another 3 to 5 sessions on its own) but noted how so many of our conferences are a total waste of time and how the input/guidance of people that call themselves ‘trainers, consultants and researchers’ is frequently of such low quality – here in canım Türkiyem.


Over the past few weeks, I have had the pleasure (or not…) of seeing a wide range of trainers / presenters at an even wider range of events and conferences around the country – and it would not be an understatement to say I am still totally UNDER-whelmed with the knowledge, skills and attitudes of most of these self-proclaimed ‘experts’.

It’s almost as if many of them have never heard the old saying…‘it doesn’t matter what you say about YOURSELF, it’s more important what OTHERS say about you!’

I have decided to be one of these OTHERS…today!

Truthiness Zamanı (updated ver) 080517


Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying everyone on the ‘circuit’ (I really hate that phrase, too) is total crap. There are many trainers and presenters that really help conference participants ‘thunk‘ by asking meaningful questions and sharing great hands-on ideas and materials. These real trainers invest serious time in their sessions, work hard to draw on research (quoting sources), combine this with some original insights of their own, and make their materials ‘reader-friendly’ and ‘useful’. They also use humour effectively, demonstrate their wealth of experience and come across as having integrity and/or being authentic human beingsheck, some are even ‘inspiring’ and help teachers ‘motivate themselves’ to be the best teachers they can be.

AND…I’m even happier that more and more of these rock-solid presenters and trainers are Turkish.

BUT, they are few and far between!


Sadly, so many of our ‘sages-on-the-stage’ that stand up (and, ohhhh…how they love standing on the stage!) and then tell us to be ‘guides-on-the-side’ simply are NOT good enough!

Yes, there…I said it!

These so-called training experts do not walk their talk, have more ‘ambition’ than ‘talent’, and more often than not spoon-feed teachers junk from the internet!

Hulk 02 (TG ver) 080517


I find it’s easier to group these ‘trainers cum consultants cum researchers’ (that’s actually how many tourism businesses describe themselves in canım Türkiyem – restaurant / bar / disco – değil mi)?


TYPE 01 – The ‘Fake-it-till-I-make-it’ Trainer

These trainers usually come with a level of training / experience that you could fit on a postage stamp. Often, they tend to be native speakers (but not always) who find the classroom too ‘hard’ and will grab any opportunity to escape a future of ‘kids in the classroom’.

Some of them are actually quite good learners themselves – but frequently fall foul of the ‘read-a-blog-post-and-tell-the-world’ syndrome. Sad really!

Snake Oil Sellers (TG ver) 080517

Many of them are also quite good ‘salesmen’ (or women) – the problem is that many real educators see them for what they are…‘snake-oil sellers’ who can’t quite pull off the authenticity required for a sustained relationship with teachers or schools. This is mostly as they tend to repeat the same tired ‘stories’ again and again and try to build their ‘brands’ (yes, they use this type of language) with teachers via use of pathetic, little one-liners like ‘What did you learn today’? …one-liners they have, in fact, ‘stolen’ from others!

They tend to have the ego the size of a bus…and lack respect for those Turkish teachers that know what it means to really learn a language and ‘earn your stripes’ through years of trying, failing and learning. This ego, however, is so often very fragile…and hides far bigger issues than a lack of ‘real experience’ in teaching.


TYPE 02 – The ‘Know-it-all’ Trainer

Sheldon quote (TG ver) 080517

Loathe to refer to themselves as ‘teachers’ or ‘learners’, these trainers have a dusty M.A or PhD somewhere on their CV’s (if the latter, woe betide you if you forget to add the title ‘Dr’ to your conference poster)! However, most of them have done nothing original since they got their beloved bit of paper – indeed, chances are they did nothing original to get the said bit of paper…they certainly would not have obtained their qualifications if they had been in a higher quality, more serious educational environment.

They still hang onto their love affair with the scientific / academic method and fill their slides with stuff even Superman (with glasses) could not read. To make matter worse, they churn out the same ‘tired’ semi-academic PPTs every time they are invited to an event (some use the same ones for bloody years…that having been said, many of the older ELT native speaker ‘hacks’ do the same)!

The more savvy among them have learned how to edit pictures they download from the internet – but frequently do not cite their sources. Indeed, many of these trainers and presenters try to pull off ‘little fibs’ or ‘white lies’…when they say, for example, ‘This is something I prepared’ or ‘…this is what I call…’! –  and lose all credibility with those of us that are in the know (and we are growing as a group – wifi is free with a cup of coffee these days)!

Teacher Learning (Sackstein quote)

Ego is also an issue for these trainers, too – however, it is their inability to recognise (and praise) the strengths of other presenters or presentations that really stands out (if they bother to stay and watch others…they usually don’t…why would they – they know everything). They tend to opt for back-stabbing and passive-aggressive forms of critique – both essentially driven by jealousy and the fear of being discovered for what they really are – mediocre intellects who have also largely avoided the classroom.

Many of these trainers also like to work on themes like ‘motivation’, ‘inspiration’ and other ‘bleeding-edge topics’ in ELT (also forsaking their academic principles and adopting the ‘read-a-blog-post-and-tell-the-world’ just to say its one of my key research interests’) – the problem is these trainers are so dull, so boring and just leave most of us wanting to cut our wrists!


TYPE 03 – The ‘Not-quite-there’ Trainer

Wide quote (TG ver) 080517

I almost did not add this group to my list – their hearts are in the right place, they are eager to share with other teachers and they have the ‘humility’ that Type 01 and 02 trainers sadly lack.

Many of them are very experienced (and successful) teachers…BUT, all of their classroom abilities just do not ‘come together’…they do not ‘gel’ – a good teacher does not always a good trainer make! I think Yoda said this…

Sadly, they are encouraged by commercially-driven or vanity-based TTT (Train The Trainer) Programmes that frequently over-promise, under-deliver and do very little ‘screening’!


All three types of trainers are ‘real’ (you probably know a couple by name), they live amongst us and they are waiting in the wings to ‘deliver’ their next ‘performance’. The really sad thing is that many of them just lack the interpersonal abilities, emotional intelligence and reflective skills to realise they are just not cutting it.

It’s almost as if they have never heard the (other) sports saying ‘You are only as good as your last game!‘ Many of these guys have been playing the last 5-6 seasons like this…

…and Publishers have been inflicting them on us by continuing to sponsor them! Now, that is what I call really dumb – not good busyness at all!

These trainers and their sponsors just don’t get what Rita Teyze learned us…

Rita Peirson (TG ver) 080517

…and the fact that teachers do NOT really learn from any of these three Types!


A worrying trend, however, is the rise of the ‘Type A / Type B Hybrid’ – a presenter that still wants to hang onto the kudos of being a so-called ‘academic expert’ in an area they really know very little about.

The solution?

Bit of ‘googling’, lot of cutting ‘n pasting and maybe a video from YouTube – just to distract the audience from the lack of real content, thought or analysis. And, if this isn’t quite engaging enough, these hybrids might even throw in a magic trick or (God forbid) pull out the musical instrument that just happened to be in their travel bag!

Canım Türkiyem deserves more!


The Bottom Line (TG ver) 080517

Time for our schools and teachers to demand more…

Time for sponsors to lift their game…

Time for these trainers to evolve…from ‘KNOW-it-alls’ to ‘LEARN-it-alls’…

– or EXIT…stage right!

Will PokémonGO ‘Save’ Education – and ELT?

In ELT and ELL, News & Updates (from the CBO), Technology on 14/07/2016 at 7:50 am


As you might have guessed from my last (tongue-in-cheek) post, I’ve always had a healthy suspicion about blog posts that seem to jump on the latest bandwagon…or the next ‘big’ thing (esp. when that thing is technology-driven).

Sadly, even EDUcators fall for the pull towards the Dark Side:

Self-promotion (cartoon)

…adopting a Kardashian-esque approach to drawing people to their Social Media sites!


As I mentioned, Pokémon GO is taking the world by storm – the new Social Media ‘drug’ that has busynesses asking how they can best leverage it (for profit, of course)…and thousands of kids almost getting killed as they cross the road! 

Pokemon Dogs TG ver 130716

Those lovely chaps at Nintendo and Niantic are busy pushing the game with the very sexy tagline ‘The Game Is Only As Good As The Community’ – and seeing as though the second and last word of that tagline are currently all the GO with many a digital cheerleader in EDUcation, I thought I’d dig a round the web and blogosphere a wee bit and what we are saying about Pokémon GO in EDUcation!

See if I am right to be such a Doubting Thomas…by throwing a few rocks at the Internet!

Blogger (crap blog)

It was not long before one of my rocks ‘hit’ a website!


A ready-to-GO lesson plan (a 26-page lesson plan…with 40 exercises) from BREAKING NEWS (a website developed and maintained by Sean Banville).

I’d seen a few of Sean’s lessons before – and his site definitely lives up to it’s name! Pokémon GO is ‘big, breaking news’…

Now, I am not sure if Sean is an EDUmarketing genius or whether he just accidentally tripped over one of the greatest ways to keep his site on everyone’s Social Media lips (Facebook mostly) – all the stuff on his site is going to be driven by every single trending hashtag (as soon as he gets it out there)! Excellent – bloody genius!

I can see how many teachers would love this material…indeed there are loads of personal recommendations on his Facebook page. I found myself admiring the sheer amount of work he has churned out and got up on the web (he has a wide range of other sites) – I just have no bloody idea how he finds the time!

The problem is that… he is an Arsenal supporter!


No, shiriously – I just have a wee problem with seeing pages and pages of gap fill exercises, multiple choice questions, true / false reading items, and cloze tests…that I know (in my cynical, black, shrivelled heart) will just be printed up, blindly photocopied and used to breathe life the ‘twin sins’ we see all too often in ELL and ELT:

TWIN SINS TG ver 130716

To be fair, I would be very pushed to brand Sean as the type of Social Media Whore (SMW) we see on so many busyness sites – he is just doing what he says he does (on the lid)…and hands out materials that TEACHers can (and do) use in their classrooms. Further, he does throw in a good range of semi-communicative activities (I just hope these are not the activities that TEACHers ‘skip’ to ‘get through’ all the other more suitable ‘exam prep-esque’ activities) and he clearly knows his ‘ELT stuff’.


Come on…you had to have seen that coming!

I guess I’d just like to see more evidence of sites like this encouraging teachers to ‘thunk’ or ask themselves bigger questions:

ARE WE DOING WHAT IS BEST notepad 130716

…or helping ELTers get ‘out of the box’ a bit more.


I threw a few more rocks…

…and found the type of post I had assumed there would be thousands of!


14 Reasons Why Pokemon GO Is the Future of LEARNing (by David Theriault) drew on just about all my tactics to reach his audience (just gotta find an image of him wearing one of those hats)!

Or, so I though initially (do NOT read the last TWO paragraphs of this post)!


Come on…what self-respecting EDUdigitalcheerleader is going to ignore this wonderful listicle (OK – a list of ‘14’ is a bit awkward…but you gotta love the way he uses the phrase ‘Future of LEARNing’)!

What? I have done the same…SHUT UP!

Read on…

His post starts with the facts – kids love their Smartphones – and rolls smoothly into a ‘subtle challenge’ (to TEACHers). This he does just before making you feel a wee bit ‘guilty’ (if all you are doing is gap-filling and MCQs) by throwing the cornerstones of modern LEARNing at you: the creativity, sharing, community-building, movement, interactivity and virtual field trips enabled by EDtech Toys!

Many of you will probably cry out…

Hadi Ordan 130716 (1)

…but David’s post has got a lot of praise (and, more importantly, HITS)!


This is also true of the third post I discovered. Written by Lori Gracey and entitled Pokemon GO: What Education Should Be, I had to have a read of this one, too! After all, Lori got as many HITS as David (I wonder if they compared stats, at all).

Lori does a wonderful job of explaining how much better the Android / iOS app version is over the card game (my 5-year-old daughter used to drag my wife and I to a darkened, underground warehouse to buy these when we were in Dubai…scarier than the drive to Ajman or Ras Al Khaimah for our monthly XXXXX XXX…but that’s another story)!

CARDS to GO TG ver 130716 (1)

She admits that she is not really sure how Pokémon GO will help her meet her ‘vision’ – people coming together to have fun and solve problems – but she has a stab at a few decent suggestions…and it is the start of a pretty good vison!


The thing is…the ideas both she and David discuss in their posts are really quite ‘nice’ – BUT, even together, just did not convince me that Pokémon GO is the Future of LEARNing:

NEW and SHINY TG ver 130716

It certainly won’t ‘save’ us from many of the EDUwoes we face today!


That having been said their titles got our attention – and, even though these titles weren’t really the best lid for the tin,  I (for one) LEARNed some new stuff…and they got me THUNKing!

Thats a wrap

I was about to wrap things up when I came across a ‘not-PokemonGO-post’, you know, one of those posts that says it is NOT a XXXXXXXX post – from George Couros.

It was cleverly titled, too – ‘#PokemonGo, Being Observant, and Innovation’ (even had the hashtag embedded in the title…and the ‘gap’ removed – smart move, George)!

George plugged his new book (come on…who ain’t gonna do that?) but (more importantly) ended up making me feel a little guilty, too.

Why…you ask!

Well, I had been ‘bashing’ (albeit a wee bit tongue-in-cheek) people in the draft version of this post – and he reminded me that David (Lori and perhaps even Sean – though he did not mention them specifically) was “paying attention and being observant to our world” (mindful, perhaps)…and that these qualities are critical to innovation.

Thinkers wanted (blog ver 02 TG)

He was right, of course!  Isn’t that the very thing I was so nasty about when I had a go at Sean’s site and materials? Sorry, Sean…


What we are seeing with the mad rush to get Pokemon GO posts into the blogosphere (I hope) by EDUcators is not thinly-veiled attempts at shameless self-promotion (and ‘HITS’…as my initial free advice suggested) – but rather, in George’s words, they are a few initial ‘iterations’ of how we can make Pokemon GO ‘fit’ the vision we have for EDUcation.

In order to do that, we need to be very explicit about what that vision is – and keep asking questions of the latest BIG thing in EDtech

How does this EDtech TG ver 130716

8…and never forget:

Telling the TRUTH TG ver 130716


How Good Are Your TEACHers?

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Our Schools, Our Universities, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness, Teacher Learning on 07/07/2016 at 10:29 am


This is one of the first questions I ask when I sit down with a School Director or Teacher Trainer to develop a new PD (or CPD) initiative at one of our many Schools (both State and Private) and University Prep Schools (Hazırlık – also both State and Foundation) here in Canım Türkiyem.

Questions (Joseph O Connor quote) Ver 03

It’s not a bad question to kick off with, if you believe (as I do) that the talents, skills and savvy of language teachers is one of the critical determining factors in determining the level of LEARNing and success that LEARNers ultimately achieve.


Some TEACHers do not like it!


I guess that is because they assume I am only talking about the quality of their language and that I am taking on the role of the judgy-judger Native Speaker (NS) TEACHer – pushing elitism…and native speakerism!


I’m not – and my question is wider, closer to the advice of David Crystal:

“If I were in charge of a language-teaching institution, I would want to know four things about applicants: are they fluent? are they intelligible? do they know how to analyse language? are they good teachers? I would not be interested in where they were born, what their first language was, or whether they had a regional accent. There are absolutely no grounds for discrimination these days”.


Like David, my question is both about language quality and TEACHing ability – and, for safe measure, it is also about what a TEACHer knows about language / student LEARNing and what s/he does with that knowledge in (and out of) the classroom. It’s a question that touches upon the core ‘Educational Literacies’ that all TEACHers need.

Sith army knife (TG)


However, that question of mine is so often boiled down to a Language TEACHer’s knowledge and skills in English – their ‘Disciplinary Literacy’. And, I’ve been asked (a lot more than once):

So, what should the CEFR / GSE minimum level be – for a TEACHer?




I’ve spent a lot of time thunking this one over, reading journals, and jumping around blogs this year. There are many that are pushing for minimum proficiency levels for TEACHers (including major ELT organisations and those that produce/administer ‘tests’…wonder why, acaba) – especially since the ELT paradigm shift towards performance-based understandings of what it means to ‘know’ a language. There are others who are resisting this idea…for many reasons.

TELLing the truth


Just like we would not want our kids to be taught maths by someone that did not know their multiplication tables (or even use a calculator effectively), the vast majority of LEARNers / administrators / parents (esp. parents) want their language TEACHers to be as good as they can be. Undergraduate TEACHers-to-be want their programmes to prepare them to be the best version of themselves before they step into the classroom. Being able to hear the answer to my question is surely the ‘right’ of each and every one of these critical stakeholders.


The problem is, of course, we all know (well, at least those that have LEARNed a second language) that language is not a finite or clearly defined entity, which you either know in its entirety or not at all. You do not ‘know’ a language in the same way you know ‘content’ – a poem, mathematical theorem or chemical formula. You can only know it more or less thoroughly. I know many people that ‘know’ Turkish grammar far better than I…but still struggle to win a battle with the Tax Office! I’ve also met many TEACHers with off-the-charts ALES scores (the m/c test all TEACHers need to pass to get a job in a Turkish university – and ‘technically’ the only tool these universities can use to hire their TEACHers)…but cannot have a half-decent chat with me!


However, most people seem to agree that language TEACHers need to:

  • be fluent
  • be intelligible
  • know the language they are TEACHing
  • be confident language users
  • know how to analyse language
  • know something about the language their students use (L1)
  • be an active language LEARNer themselves (improving their own language day-by-day)


The question, it seems to me, is how exactly a TEACHer (both NS and NNS TEACHers) ‘knows’ these things about him/herself – and how they ‘evidence’ these abilities to others.

What if 06

What do you thunk – remembering, for now, we are are only talking about the language skills / talents (or ‘Disciplinary Literacy’) of our TEACHers?

  • Could we add anything else to this list?
  • Should there be a minimum proficiency level for TEACHers here in Canım Türkiyem?
  • How should we ‘measure’ this proficiency level (do not say ALES)?
  • If not, how can we ‘know’ exactly how good our TEACHers are?
  • Should NS TEACHers here also be required to demonstrate the same proficiency level?



Tony (logo new) 260316 ACG

The 2016-17 EDU, ELT/ELL and EDTECH Conference Calendar for Canım Türkiyem…Ver 1.0

In Conferences, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning on 03/07/2016 at 11:17 am

And…here’s you guys thinking I had died…passed on…ceased to be…expired…gone to meet my maker…kicked the bucket…shuffled off my mortal coil!


No such luck…

Tony (logo new) 260316 ACG

…is very much alive and kicking!


Having strayed from the path of light (OK…not as much as Kylo Ren) and avoided me bouts of bloggery for as long as I have, I thought I’d re-launch the ‘ole blog with one of the best-selling, regular posts that seems to have been missed the most…esp. over AY2015-16 (so, please stop mailing me and sending FB hate-messages)!


As a fair few of you have noted, Canım Türkiyem has still not come up with a way to keep all of us (consistently) informed of the major EDUevents taking place in a given year – so, I guess, it still falls to me…


Problem is that…I have jumped the gun a wee bit! There are not many confirmed for 2016-17…good job this is only VER 1.0 and also that I will update the post as soon as I hear of any others.


As usual, I’ll kick off with the specific events here in Canım Türkiyem – before moving onto the International (and Regional) BIG BOYS…yani, those conferences that are far too far away (and too expensive for most of us to get to) …unless we work for an EDUorganisation that sends all its TEACHers on an international ‘jolly’ (while all the administrators / managers stay back at home to look after the shop)!

 ELT & ELL Conf Calendar (TG ver)

Here we go…



  • DATE: Sept 08 – 10
  • LOCATION: Boğaziçi University – Istanbul, Turkey.
  • EVENT/THEME: ITHET 2016 – The 15th International Conference on Information Technology Based Higher Education and Training




  • DATE: March 04
  • LOCATION: Radisson Blu Hotel – Istanbul, Turkey
  • EVENT/THEME: EdTech Summit (Eğitim Teknolojileri Zirvesi)


Canım Türkiyem (TG Ver 03)


As promised…the BIG BOYS! I’ve even added a couple of flipping good ideas for holidays in the States (if you have not made plans, yet)!







As ever, if you overhear a whispered conversation in a dark car park…let me know and I’ll get it up onto VERSION 1.1 – coming soon to a server near you!



Why on Earth Do We Need Teacher Training?

In Adult Educators, Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Guest BLOGGERS, Our Universities, Teacher Learning on 28/04/2015 at 5:52 am

Adams Quote (for Steve)

I have had intriguing tidings from some of my final year learners recently.  They are currently engaged in their second semester of “school experience,” where they spend one day a week under the tutelage of their mentor educators in local high schools.  In theory they are supposed to watch their mentors in the first term, and gradually be allowed to assume responsibility for teaching their classes in the second.  In the end they are asked to teach one, perhaps two entire classes on their own.

 Thinkers wanted (blog ver 02 TG)

The idea sounds a practical one – it’s often best to learn the rudiments of teaching from a professional.  In practice what has happened is this:  learners spend most of their time sitting at the back of the classroom watching their mentors undertake a series of repetitive exercises involving little or no language practice – gap-filling, cloze procedure and the like.  They are easy to mark and require the educator to undertake little or no extra-curricular activity.  It’s an easy way to pass the time in class.

Consequently many learners have complained of wasting their time on “school experience.” Not only do they have little or no involvement in classroom activity, but they are introduced to the jobsworth mentality in which educators do the minimum amount necessary to keep their learners amused and collect their salaries at the end of the week.  When the learners are given the space to teach their own classes, they are told to do the same gap-filling activities, as their mentors cannot be bothered to think up anything new.

 21C LEARNing Culture (TG ver 02 upgrade)

I am not in any way suggesting that this state of affairs prevails at every high school; I have encountered many enthusiastic educators willing to challenge existing approaches to pedagogy.  But what proves particularly disconcerting is that this jobsworth mentality is allowed to prevail at any institution.  It suggests that all the teacher training initiatives spearheaded by the British Council, the book publishers and other institutions have little or no influence on the way in which educators handle the day-to-day business of working with their learners.  Resources are spent to little effect – except, perhaps, to encourage institutions to spend more money on glossy textbooks and thereby increase author royalties.

Is there any possibility for change, or at least create the conditions for change?  Institutionally speaking, the prospect is a pessimistic one: many educators are so imbued with the jobsworth mentality that they perceive little or no reason to change their methods.  Even if they wanted to change, there is little or no incentive to do so.  Personal development assumes less significance than the monthly pay-check.  Even if individuals want to change, they will have to negotiate with their superiors, who might disagree with their views entirely.  Why rock the boat when things are going fine?

 Hocam will this be on the test

Perhaps the only workable solution is to begin from the ground up: to find ways outside the institution to set up initiatives dedicated not to teacher training per se, but to investigate methods of learning, both virtual as well as face-to-face.  This might require us to rethink the way institutions work – perhaps technology needs to assume a more important role in facilitating communication between educators and learners.  Much of the teacher training I’ve encountered has been fundamentally top-down in approach; follow the example of the trainer (like the mentor educator), and you too can learn how to work in class.  I’d favor a flipped approach, in which educators tried to listen to their learners and reshaped their classroom strategies accordingly.  Undergraduate learners could be made part of the collaborative process; the insights they have acquired in the three years of their university curricula might prove invaluable in creating new learning strategies.  While jobsworth educators are difficult to shift, there are still opportunities available to create new generations of educators with a genuine and lasting commitment to listening to and learning from their learners.  Who knows – even the learners might want to become educators in the future.

 Creativity (Einstein Quote ver 03)

Yet time is running out: frustrations increase.  My fourth-year learners have a disillusioned view of their chosen profession.  For them it is not a matter of learning about the way people think and react, but simply a matter of rehearsing time-honored drills practiced by their mentors.  Perhaps the teacher training institutions and the publishers need to rethink their approach to working with institutions; rather than trying to foist their products on their so-called ‘customers,’ they might be better advised to take a lengthy time out and listen to what people want, especially those at the lowest end of the pedagogical scale.  Otherwise we are simply reinventing an educational wheel which will very soon come off the axle that drives it.

Laurence Raw

Ankara, Turkey – 27 Apr. 2015